The End of Yoo (and other microposts)


Apologies for the very light blogging this week. In principle, I agree with Tyler Cowen that that a blog should be updated every day. I try to stick to that during the workweek (but don’t always succeed)  but I was under the gun more than usual this week.  So what’s been happening?

Well, last weekend I saw Gran Torino, which I loved.  The reviews have been somewhat mixed, and I can see why not every digs it. But this part from the WaPo review nails it, I think:

But “Gran Torino” isn’t the work of just any filmmaker. It’s a Clint Eastwood production, and as such it overcomes its only-in-the-movies conventions to exude its own undeniable, and uniquely potent, brand of authenticity. There’s a gentle, elegiac grandeur to “Gran Torino,” even at its most self-conscious and highly pitched, that befits Eastwood’s transcendent place in American culture.

Later in the week, once the Obamania had calmed down a touch, I checked in with Ian Verner Macdonald’s defamation suit against Warren Kinsella. It wrapped yesterday — The Citizen was the only paper that covered it every day; Katie Daubs did an outstanding job for us, though I think even she would admit that the sparring between Doug Christie and Warren Kinsella gave her some dynamite material to work with.  

I also went to the Public Policy Forum breakfast yesterday that featured Professors Van Loon, Russell, and Juillet debating the coalition and the constitution over coffee and croissants. Kady live-blogged it; my take on things (as well as the open letter released today by the 35 academics) will appear in tomorrow’s edition of the Citizen, in the Weekend Observer pages.  

Finally, this is the most interesting thing I read today — thanks to noted constitutional Democrat Norman Spector for the link:

And in a broad swipe at the Bush administration’s lawyers, Obama nullified every legal order and opinion on interrogations issued by any lawyer in the executive branch after Sept. 11, 2001.

House is back next week. Should be fun.

Filed under:

The End of Yoo (and other microposts)

  1. I wouldn’t worry about the post a day thing, quality very important. Drowning in information, make it good.

  2. that ottawa citizen column was nonsense!

    We Democrats prefer the majority rule, not some minority dictator who never listens to anyone else, leads a party with an obstructionist playbook, drags it’s heels with inquiries of it’s friends and neuters them ahead of time, planned to form a coalition with the same sort of people they later called traitors….

    Mr. Potter being hyper-partisan is in no way being Democratic.

    And you wonder why newspaper sales decline – too many hires are reflections the old money goons running the shows yet leave the public interest out of it as their role as newspapers should be.

    The majority do not support harper and co – that is democracy.

    • MT — all I can say is repeat what RIchard Van Loon has to keep stressing, to his considerable dismay: Just because we’re against the coalition doesn’t make us Tories.

      • Corollary: just because we think this proposed coalition is a toxic brew that would be bad for the country doesn’t mean we have to call it illegal.

        • Of course. But if you’ve followed my swinging, veering thoughts on this: I started out disliking the coalition but thought that it was perfectly legal. I changed my mind on that, not for any of the partisan reasons every one likes to assume are at work whenever people make principled arguments. I still thinks it’s legal, in the narrow sense that the 35 constitutional experts explain. I just think that it violates basic principles of democratic legitimacy, on more or less the grounds that Van Loon spells out.

          • You say that the idea of a Liberal/NDP coalition “violates basic principles of democratic legitimacy”. But reading the article, the only substantive complaint I can find is that the Liberals repeatedly denied any possibility of such a coalition during the election campaign, thus misleading millions of Canadian voters who would have voted for the Conservatives had they only known that a coalition with the hated dippers was a possibility. There may be another substantive point in there (by which I mean something other than “I don’t like it”), but I can’t find it.

            First, it was clear to anyone who was watching the campaign, and surely to you, sir, that the dynamic was just the opposite of that. The Liberals were denying the possibility of any coalition with the NDP not to stop the leakage of votes to the Conservatives, but rather to the NDP. It was just part of the usual “strategic voting” schtick. It was aimed at Harper-phobes, and the message was, “a vote for Jack Layton is a vote for Stephen Harper.”

            Secondly, a Jan. 21 EKOS poll shows that 50% of Canadians now would prefer a Liberal/NDP coalition government, while only 43% would prefer the Harper Government to continue. It seems the Prime Minister’s arguments and actions regarding this have not worn well, and Dion’s replacement by Ignatieff has changed a few minds. But the really interesting part is the breakdown by which party the respondent supported. In fact, 80% of Liberals, 86% of NDPers, 70% of Greens, and 85% of Bloquistes would prefer a coalition government. On the other side, 97% of Conservatives would prefer that their man stay in office.

            So, the vast majority of those who are outraged by the undemocratic, unfair coalition are in fact the 38% of voters who supported the Conservatives. They seem to believe that because their 38% is higher than any of the other parties, the only democratic result is for them to be the government. Somewhat less than 20% of the Liberal and NDP supporters are against a coalition, and it is not at all clear that even these people would have changed their votes to Conservative, had they known that a coalition was a real possibility. I strongly suspect that if a coalition government actually came to power, most of these would get on board within a few weeks.

            Furthermore, the Liberals weren’t lying in the campaign when they denied any intentions to form a coalition. Before the financial update, no one had any serious thoughts of a coalition. It was only when Harper put a gun to their heads, with the foolish plan to end public funding of political parties, that any possibility of a coalition arose. I would submit that it is perfectly democratic for an elected representative to change his position from that taken in the campaign in the case of an unexpected and significant change of circumstances. And that the funding threat, along with the lack of economic stimulus in the financial update, was such a case.

            Finally, if you are going to get all bent out of shape over violations of basic principles of democratic legitimacy, you should be working for proportional representation, and an end to the extremely undemocratic first past the post system, which has resulted in majority government after majority government, almost none of which received a majority of the votes cast, and many of which got less than 40%. Now there, sir, is an affront to basic principles of democratic legitimacy.